First presented in 2011, the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards are presented annually on Sondheim's birthday, March 22, to a select group of teachers, kindergarten through college, whose work impacts students in a meaningful way.
Award recipients each receive $10,000 and are showcased, along with the people they inspired, on a website dedicated to inspirational teachers. The awards were created in honor of Sondheim's 80th birthday and were initiated and funded through Myrna and Freddie Gershon.
In their fourth year, the Kennedy Center will also accept posthumous nominations. Nominators for posthumous recognition of a teacher must designate a non-profit organization or fund within a K-12 school, school system, college or university in the United States to receive the $10,000 award in the deceased teacher's name.
Nominators must be at least 18 years of age and have been a student of the nominee. Teacher nominees must teach or have taught in a K-12 school, college or university in the United States. Teachers of all grade levels and subject areas are eligible. A panel of judges reviewed a pool of nominations and selected the recipients based on the power and quality of the nominations from their former students.
The nomination deadline is Dec. 15. "Teachers define us," said Sondheim in a statement. "In our early years, when we are still being formed, they often see in us more than we see in ourselves, more even than our families see and, as a result, help us to evolve into what we ultimately become. Good teachers are touchstones to paths of achieving more than we might have otherwise accomplished, in directions we might not have gone."
For more information, visit Kennedy-Center.org/SondheimTeacherAwards.